Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Christian Decision Making – Theological Considerations

If you listen to Evangelical music, read their books or listen to their sermons, the message makes mighty big assumptions about decision making.

The fundamental assumption is the belief that there is NO ambiguity in our choices. Christian people often quote verses like Jeremiah 29: “11 For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

With that verse, the quoters often make a huge leap, assuming that the word “Plans” apply to everything and every Christian. In other words, God is the extreme mirco-manager. But any sensible person would have to realize that you can not make that conclusion from that verse. If you read the surrounding context, you would realize that this is a direct message from God to the exiled Israelites in Babylon. It doesn't, nor has it ever applied to Christians in the way that Christians mis-use it.

Then, look at another favorite verse for the “God-the mirco manager” camp, Matt: 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. 30And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31So don't be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.”

Again, you should read the entire chapter or book to get the real meaning of this passage. Actually, the passage seems to be saying the opposite of how that one verse is used out of context. It is saying . . . hey, don’t be surprised when bad people hurt you or even kill you. They do have that power to make decisions and God does NOT (very different than He can not) control those things. However, He does control you eternal destiny and bad people can not take that away.

Then, when it comes to decision making . . . such as choosing a wife . . . Evangelicals quote other passages such as the story of Jacob and Rachel and how God choose her for him. From that, they make a giant leap that God chooses one woman for each man. But again, the entire story is taken out of context.
So the first question is, which decisions have a "God's will" attached? I think they are far fewer than we have been led to believe.

This problem is closely connected to the unhealthy Evangelical Dualistic view. How? If you believe that this world, and every thing in it, has little significance then every decision MUST have spiritual consequences as well.

If I decided that taking a new job in a new state was completely my practical choice (that God doesn’t have an opinion about it), then I would likewise be stating that my personal choices have significance in this present world. I will not have to worry that if I move to the other state that my children will fall into the wrong crowd and become Satanist. Nor would I have to believe that if I stay at this job, the kids would become saintly missionaries. Real life is not that clear.

So, I want to establish that in some oblivious choices, God does have a strong opinion (e.g. should I rape and kill that person . . . or should I steal that money). However, most of our common decisions have amoral answers.
God gives us great freedom to choose but our choices have real consequences. I mean it could be that if I move my children to another state that they will become Satanist . . . but on the other hand they may become Satanist if I don’t move them, and in that case my moving them would be a good thing. So we do have a responsibility to choose wisely but it's not magic. Follow God's mysterious and irrational will and every thing will go great, make a mistake (in figuring out his obscure will) and you are in big trouble

More to come . . .

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